Nutrition and the skin

By Rachel White

Rachel is a registered dietitian who graduated in 2016 from Kings College London. She works part time in the NHS working with oncology patients, but has worked across a number of medical specialties including intensive care, surgery and respiratory. She also runs her own company Rachel White Nutrition providing sports nutrition advice to athletes. Rachel joined Nutritank as Lead Dietitian in March 2021 to help promote evidence based nutrition for medics and support the wider team with this mission. She believes that increased nutrition training for Doctors and medical students will not only enhance the care provided to their patients but also improve collaborations with dietitians and registered nutritionists. In her free time you will often find Rachel trail running – preferably running up some hills, cycling or baking cakes.

In a recent Nutritank #MedEd webinar titled, ‘Nutrition and the Skin’, Dr Thivi, Consultant Dermatologist and Registered Associate Nutritionist evaluated the new topic of nutritional dermatology and covered the importance of nutrients for the health of our skin.

Dr Thivi stresses that diet is not a cure for skin conditions but can be a part of holistic care which may make a difference in patient outcomes. As many of us know, most of the skin products on the market are comprised of vitamins such as vitamin C and vitamin A. Dr Thivi discusses that what we eat can influence our skin, for example, dermatitis herpetiformis as a side effect of untreated coeliac disease. Everyone’s diet provides the building blocks to the skin, hair, and nails, therefore changes in the skin, hair and nails, such as itching, or hair loss can be the first sign of a nutrient deficiency. Dr Thivi also mentions the indirect effects of food and how the relationship between dairy and acne is vague at present. She also speaks about the dangers of social media and scare-tactic headlines, influencing the public on what may be the best diet or food for their skin and this having negative effects on people’s health. Dr Thivi also speaks about the negative effects that skin conditions can have on people’s mental health. She also looks at the evidence behind the differing microbiomes of individuals with psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea compared to healthy controls, and that positively modulating the gut microbiome can be done through the diet, such as through eating fermented foods. To finish, Dr Thivi reviews the current evidence behind dietary patterns and specific food groups and their relationship with skin conditions including acne, eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis, and discusses evidenced-based practical advice to give to patients.

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